A Columbine survivor turned lawmaker is pushing the opposite of what many people think is the solution to end school shootings

  • Patrick Neville, a Colorado state legislator who survived the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, has reintroduced a bill that would make it legal to carry concealed weapons in schools.
  • Neville, a Republican, has introduced the bill every year since he took public office in 2014.
  • But the legislation stands in stark contrast to what many survivors of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, are advocating.

Every year since 2014, when he joined the Colorado Legislature, Republican Rep. Patrick Neville, who was a sophomore at Columbine High School at the time of the 1999 mass shooting, has introduced legislation to eliminate restrictions on guns in schools in the state.

Neville, the Colorado House minority leader, has again reintroduced his bill after 17 people were killed in a shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“Time and time again we point to the one common theme with mass shootings, they occur in gun-free zones,” Neville told the Washington Times.

Under Colorado state law, gun owners are permitted to bring their guns onto school property but must keep them locked in their cars. Neville’s bill would make it legal to carry concealed weapons inside schools.

But many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become vocal advocates of the opposite approach, launching the Never Again movement to call for stricter gun regulations and background checks and organising walkouts, “die-ins,” and a protest next month in Washington, DC, called March for Our Lives.

“They say tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence – we call BS,” Emma Gonzalez, a senior at the school, said during a speech at a rally over the weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun – we call BS.”

Anne Marie Hochhalter, 36, who was a junior at Columbine when she was shot in the back and paralysed, told Business Insider she believes more gun regulations are needed but has little hope that lawmakers will make any meaningful change.

“I try not to get too political, but I’m very passionate about gun control,” Hochhalter said. “I have lost all faith in our government and senators and congresspeople about making any lasting change because it has not happened, and I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.”

Florida already has some of the most permissive gun laws in the US. Almost 2 million residents have permits to carry concealed weapons, many more than in any other state.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in 2016 gave Florida – and 24 other states – an F grade for its gun laws.

Florida has been the site of several of the country’s deadliest shootings over the past few years, including one at an Orlando nightclub in 2016 and one at the Fort Lauderdale airport last year.

Other Republican lawmakers, including Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and US Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, are calling for “common sense” gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

“If you’re a strong Second Amendment person, you need to slow down and take a look at reasonable things that can be done,” Kasich told CNN on Sunday.

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